• Hockfinal6

    David Hockney: Winter Timber (2009) (Pic Jonathan Wilkinson)

  • Hockfinal7

    David Hockney: Winter Timber (2009) cont.

  • Dh1

    David Hockney: The Road Across the Wolds (1997)

  • Hockfinal3

    David Hockney: A Closer Winter Tunnel, February – March (2006)

  • Hockfinal4

    David Hockney: A Closer Winter Tunnel, February – March (2006) cont.

  • Dh3

    David Hockney: The Big Hawthorne (2008)

  • Hockfinal1

    David Hockney: Woldgate Woods 21, 23 & 29 November 2006 (2006)

  • Hockfinal2

    David Hockney: Woldgate Woods 21, 23 & 29 November 2006 (2006) cont.

Art

What's On: David Hockney

Posted by Rob Alderson,

The first blockbuster show of 2012 opened this week amid massive acclaim, with critics lining up to celebrate the man named the most influential British artist among a recent poll of 1,000 contemporary creatives. We spoke to Edith Devaney, curator of the major David Hockney landscape retrospective at The Royal Academy, about the challenges of putting on such an anticipated show and what she hopes to achieve in the academy’s hallowed halls.

The rich, sometimes daring palette, the instinctive feel for personality – be it people or places – the eye for composition, the restless urge to evolve and reinvent, it’s not hard to see why so many hail Hockney as one of their key influences.

This new show David Hockney: A Bigger Picture is inspired by that restless reinvention in more ways than one. In 2007 the highlight of the RA summer show was Bigger Trees Near Warter, a mammoth 50 panel Yorkshire landscape which marked a renewed passion for the county where he grew up and where he now spends more and more of his time. It was that picture which prompted the discussions which led to this show although the piece itself will not be on display.

Much has also been made of the inclusion of various iPad paintings in this show – The Evening Standard dubbed him “The iPriest of Art” and he has tickled many interviewers by knocking up miniature Hockneys on his iPhone.

But he himself has mocked the iPriest moniker, ridiculing the obsession with “computer art” in a Sunday Times article as “daft.” “What did Leonardo use to paint the Mona Lisa?” he said. “Well he used brushes; so if I can get a brush I can do do that, can’t I? No! A brush, like a computer, is merely a tool.”

This is a man who at one time or another has worked with oil, acrylic, crayon, with collage, etching and aquatints, heck he even designed works using fax machines. In this show alone there’s oils, watercolours, charcoal drawings and film along with the much-heralded iPad pieces.

And rather than suggesting a swing to landscape in this new show, rather curator Edith Devaney wants to, “trace Hockney’s development as a landscape painter.” 

She said: “His early works introduce many of the themes which will recur in the more recent work. In the landscape work Hockney examines the role of memory and imagination, he explores perspective, he examines the changes to the landscape brought about by changing light and seasons.”

Hockney, like The Impressionists loves capturing this change, the way a tree, pond or path can look completely different from one day to the next. He paints wherever possible en plein air, bundling materials into his car and scouring the Yorkshire countryisde which spots which capture his imagination.

Again the tempting narrative – the spiritual homecoming of the Californian emigre – is insufficient, as Hockney has pointed out just how wild Los Angeles actually is.

But even though drawing simplistic conclusions should be avoided, that does not mean the show will not raise a few eyebrows.

As Edith Devaney puts it: “It is building a story which tracks the artist’s thinking that provides the discipline. Hockney is an artist who is constantly developing and employing different tools in image making.  As a result there are new bodies of work which will be shown here for the first time and which will be surprising to even the most knowledgeable Hockney followers.” 
 
She knows expectations are high, and that working with a living legend can bring its own complications, but she is full of praise for the way the preparations have gone.

“Of course there is an additional pressure when working with a living artist to present their work in the best possible way, but this is balanced (certainly in this particular case) with having the benefit of the artist’s input in curatorial decisions.  Both I and my co-curator, Marco Livingstone, have met very regularly with the artist to consult with him on every aspect of the exhibition’s development 

“In this case it was very much a collaboration which had added hugely to the strength of the exhibition. Hockney is a very generous artist to work with and is very interested in considering other ways of looking at the subject or presenting work. 

“As this exhibition is so much about evoking a sense of place, to have the artist closely involved in the process of exhibition selection and design was invaluable. Marco and I have both known David for a number of years (in Marco’s case for 35); so we all came into the project with a good understanding of both the work, and how we could all work together.”

And here at the top of 2012, with The Cultural Olympiad and a slew of big-name shows ready to compete for attention in this year when so many eyes are on London, is there a pressure being first? 

“It’s exciting.  It feels very appropriate for one of our most celebrated British artists to ’open’ this wonderful cultural event.”

David Hockney: A Bigger Picture runs until April 9.

Ra

Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Art View Archive

  1. Main

    Artist Larry van Pelt wants to spread the word that “Jesus in life makes a difference.” Already a keen artist, Florida-based Larry decided to use his creative skills to spread the message, and began drawing Jesus in a number of different working environments. His collection involves a huge range of work scenarios, including a truck driver, a secretary, a carpet layer, a bodybuilder and a french horn player.

  2. List

    We’ve long admired the work of Californian set designer and art director Adi Goodrich. A veritable mistress of creating the sort of strange, cartoon-like scenes that pop with colour and ideas, she’s worked with big-name clients like Michel Gondry and Wieden+Kennedy, but she recently got in touch about an intriguing solo exhibition at The Standard hotel in Hollywood, entitled Like Thiiiiis. The show takes the form of an installation in a glass box behind the hotel’s reception desk, and features a number of images that look to show what it means to be a young creative at the start of your career.

  3. Main

    In a beautiful profile in The Guardian recently, journalist Tim Lewis travelled out to the Hollywood hills to peek behind the gates of Hockney’s jungle-like home to get a glimpse of what the now 77-year-old artist is up to. As it happened, he had been very busy indeed: making a whole bunch of new paintings that are, in classic Hockney-style, moving in a totally different direction from his previous work.

  4. List

    Remember Kim Keever? Back in the summer of 2013, the New York based artist wowed us with his amazing landscapes created in 200-gallon tanks of water and what’s more, he let us in on his process with some fascinating set-up shots. Now, like many a painter before him, Kim has moved from landscapes to more abstract creations albeit within the context of his sculptural practice.

  5. List

    This project by artist Erica Allen is an oldie but such a goodie. Way back in 2008 California-born, Brooklyn-based Erica decided to merge a collection of faces from found barbershop posters with discarded shots of studio backdrops, creating a series of oddly alluring fictional portraits. Removed from their original context, the freshly-trimmed gents pictured come across as utterly anonymous and strangely distant, connected to one another only by a crisp shape-up and a gaze fixed somewhere in the distance. And if that rainbow backdrop didn’t inspire the album artwork for Drake’s Nothing Was the Same then I don’t know what did.

  6. List

    Edmund Clark is one of the most interesting artists working today, exploring what is arguably the defining issue of the past 13 years. He’s interested in the wars waged by the USA and UK in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the fall-out from this foreign policy and how it impacts on us here at home. His new book The Mountains of Majeed continues this theme, as it’s a reflection on “the end of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan through photography, found imagery and Taliban poetry.”

  7. List

    The secluded French port of Le Havre is a very particular place. Closed off by barriers, it is staffed solely by men, and jobs there are strictly only passed on from father to son. All of which made it the perfect backdrop for artist JR’s contribution to the Women Are Heroes project, which saw him collaborate with the dockers to create a huge image of a woman’s eyes on a 363-metre long container ship.

  8. List

    The bright, woozy haze of Wojciech Fangor’s psychedelic paintings is mesmerising. It’s even more so having learnt that the Polish artist, who worked during the 1960s, created these Op art masterpieces entirely in isolation, working in Eastern Europe having not seen the similar works being created in America and Europe by the likes of Bridget Riley and Victor Vasarely. As such, while the images feel familiar; there’s also something exotic about them, pulsing with light created using intensely coloured oil paint applied in thin layers. A new show named Colour-Light-Space opens next month at London’s 3 Grafton Street gallery, and will display a number of works by Wojciech from the 1960s and 1970s that demonstrate his mastery of all three words in the title. It’s fascinating to think of the artist working on these beautiful optical illusions and explorations of the power of painting well before similar works were created elsewhere in the world, and it’s great to have his work celebrated in the way it deserves.

  9. List

    Mark Lazenby is the go-to guy for collage that just works. We last featured the artist two years ago and since then his portfolio of pieced together artworks has exploded with even more impressive works and a real exploration of materials and collage techniques.

  10. List

    There’s not a pie in the cultural world that James Franco isn’t ready and willing to stick a finger into, and to prove it the actor, director, poet and musician has just announced a new exhibition of his artworks, entitled Fat Squirrel, which is to be held at London’s Siegfried Contemporary gallery. The show is an undeniably eclectic collection, including a number of self portraits of the artist in the guise of various famous historical figures, a deer orgy entitled Triple Team, and some bright painterly collages, not to mention the eponymous overweight rodents which are undoubtedly our favourites.

  11. List

    I’m known for my sweet tooth and ability to consume an obscene amount of cakes, sweets and biscuits in one sitting, so it’ll come as no surprise that I was instantly drawn to Will Cotton’s sugary scenes of candy-laced lands.

  12. List

    Time and again Amy Woodside gets in touch to let us know about new projects she’s cooked up and time and again we’re powerless to resist them. The New York-based artist is focussed to a fault on her fine art practice where iconic letterforms emerge from meticulously registered screen printing and frantic flourishes of spray paint. Where first she caught our eye with multicoloured wordplay, the constant reduction and refinement of her process has resulted in a new series’ of totemic words like ‘Hero’, ‘Cash’, ‘Hoax’ and ‘Like’, pre-loaded with cultural context and double meaning, writ large on the canvas. What’s the meaning behind them? The interpretation is up to you, but Amy always seems to be critiquing pop culture with its own visual vernacular and playing fast and loose with our ambiguous use of language.

  13. List

    The Dutch/Brazilian artist Rafaël Rozendaal is best known for his digital artworks that often take the form of webpages but as he told us at our 2013 creative symposium Here he is increasingly interested in exploring his fascination with light and colour in real-world scenarios. Most recently this has taken the form of his hyper-colourful abstract lenticular paintings, which are made up of layers of different frames and so appear to move when viewed from different angles.